If you are getting interested in stop motion photographs you are in the right place since today we will discuss the cameras that would make a perfect fit for that kind of photography, or video. Stop motion is a very popular technique in cinematography, and if you don’t already know it consists of taking photographs in different time intervals, and in between shots you adjust the subject.
It is pretty fun and albeit pretty old you won’t find a lot of cameras out there that can achieve this photography, but with a bit of search and interest, you can find yourself the perfect stop motion camera for your needs. Now without further ado, let’s get into it.
The 5 Best Stop Motion Cameras
5. Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920
We are going to kick off this list with a pretty interesting webcam coming in from Logitech, the HD Pro Webcam C920. If you don’t want to invest in a DSLR or Mirrorless camera for professional stop motion, you can get a webcam to do some basic stop-motion. This camera is excellent at taking both clear photos and videos, making everything pretty pleasant and combined with the right frame grabber software you will be able to achieve excellent stop motion photography.
Now let’s talk about this camera in detail. This beast has a pretty interesting design, which isn’t the most interesting or the most attractive but it will get the job done. It is a little chunky but you can sacrifice that since it has a 1080p camera in it. It also has a pretty good arm that attaches to your monitor or laptop like a claw and it won’t move at all. The 6-foot USB cord just makes things better than ever here.
For those that use laptop webcams or those cheap models for Skyping or any other purpose, I think that after trying the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 you won’t go back to them. It is impossible to do so since this one delivers a great 5 MP images with tons of clarity detail and light even in low light conditions. The field of view is pretty good as well and gives the right software you can get some great results. However, I should mention that the Logitech Webcam Software is a bit buggy.
4. Nikon D3300
Next up we have one of the most affordable DSLR cameras in the market, that might be a bit old but still has some game in it, the Nikon D3300. This camera has been one of the favorite entry-level DSLRs for a long time now since it has all the desirable qualities including a great sensor, easy to use controls and tons of value for its budget price. Also, it will deliver you a great stop motion experience, on top of everything else.
This camera has a polycarbonate construction that is super lightweight especially for a DSLR camera, weighing in at just 460 grams with the battery and memory card in it. It is also pretty small making it pretty easy to hold. The controls are not very extensive but will be an excellent choice for those that are not familiar with DSLRs allowing you to get the hang of things.
The autofocus system might be a bit dated but for stop motion photography it is better than expected. The Nikon D3300 has the so-called Guide mode that will take you through the basics of photography and teach you things you need. Moving on it has a DX-format 24.2MP APS-C sensor that combines very well with the Expeed 4 processor and delivers a pleasant photography experience. With its 700 shot battery life, you will have a great stop motion photography experience without a doubt.
3. Sony Alpha a6000
Moving up on our list I have one of my favorite cameras in the market, the Sony Alpha a6000. I am not just biased with this camera, as it delivers everything that you may need from a camera at a pretty affordable price. It is packed with a great sensor, compact body, amazing autofocus performance, tons of creative freedom in terms of controls and great low light performance, what’s not to like.
The Sony Alpha a6000 was released to replace the NEX-6 which was also an excellent mirrorless camera, but this one, even after all those years has everything you need form a camera. For example, it is extremely lightweight, while still being pretty robust and sturdy. It can be used one-handed provided you combine it with an adequate lens. The controls are pretty much perfect and will allow you to get the best settings for your photographs.
This camera is packed with a pretty excellent 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor that is present in most DSLRs of Sony’s lineup. It also combines the features of the Bionz X image processor to deliver beautifully detailed photographs. The low light performance was pretty good, especially for a mirrorless model at that price point. To conclude I would like to mention the 179 point phase-detect autofocus system that is pretty amazing.
2. Nikon D810
The runner up in this list is none other than the Nikon D810. This camera is pretty much amazing when you think about it as it has all the features that even a professional photographer would be satisfied with. IT has a great full-frame sensor that has proven itself, a great detail resolution, speedy performance, autofocus, and so much more. Since this camera has a while since it has been released it comes at a pretty affordable price that delivers so much value.
If you have been a user of Nikon cameras for some time, you will find yourself right at home with this one. Since it has the familiar body shape and control layout, well it has some differences that make it more appropriate for enthusiast photographers. It is pretty pleasant to hold in the hand since it has a great hand grip that combines with the thumb grip on the back to deliver a great ergonomic performance. Creative freedom is enhanced with a large number of controls and you will have plenty of fun with it.
Coming to its biggest selling point the Nikon D810 is packed with a 36.3MP full-frame CMOS sensor that lacks an anti-aliasing filter for better detail resolution. The ISO range is also amazing and it delivers perfect performance in low light scenarios. Moving on the 51 point autofocus system will be very handy and considering the 5 frames per second burst shooting mode at a full resolution this is pretty much perfect.
1. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
On top of the list, we have none other than the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. This camera is also one of the most popular ones with those that are serious with stop motion photography since it is excellent. Not for just stop shooting, but all-around it is pretty much one of the best cameras in the market, let’s check it out.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is a professional level camera built from magnesium alloy and polycarbonate. However, it weighs just 800 grams in total and combined with its excellent ergonomics, handgrip and thumb grip it is extremely easy to use and hold. Without forgetting I should state that it is dust and weather-sealed. The controls may be a little confusing but nothing that you can’t manage, especially if you have some experience with cameras.
For autofocus, it has a 61 point autofocus system with the contrast-detect sensor. 41 of those points are super accurate and responsive cross-type points and the Dual Pixel CMOS AF in live view will come in handy for stop motion. It is equipped with the powerful 30.4MP CMOS full-frame sensor that works rather well and with the 4K frame grab it will deliver you the best stop motion performance.
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Things You Should Know Before Buying a Stop Motion Camera
There are several things you have to check out when you are buying a camera for stop motion photography. They are not complicated and most of the cameras in the market have them, but still, it is better to check them beforehand so you get the best results.
Several types of cameras are capable of stop motion photography and it will mostly depend on your budget and needs. Also, it will depend on the versatility you need from the camera. So let’s check them out.
If you have limited funds and want to just get into stop motion photography than a webcam is your best bet. They will work excellently when you combine them with the right software. Also, they are extremely easy to work with, and you can start and stop the process and time you want. This is a choice that I recommend to beginners mostly but not so much for those that are serious with photography or already have prior experience with different cameras. It is a good starting point as you will see what works and learn the basics until you decide to pull the trigger on the super-advanced camera out there. The quality won’t be up there with some of the other types but if you are an absolute beginner I would recommend you start with a webcam, just to take things slowly but surely and see if you are up for more advanced and more expensive models.
These have also been some popular options for people that have them lying around. I should state that these cameras can’t provide stop motion on their own. Then again with good frame grabbing software on your PC, you can get some excellent results. To be honest, you do not use the camera to record or tape anything, you just connect it to your PC to get a live view, and then the software does the rest. This option is a nice one, but most of the camera isn’t compatible to do so unless you have the right adapter. You might think that it is not such a big problem but finding the right adapter, especially for older camcorders is pretty hard to do so. So if you can stick within newer models, but new ones have the price of a proper camera so it is not justified.
DSLR and Mirrorless Systems
Most people that are serious with stop motion photography should probably buy DSLRs or a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera to deliver the best for their needs. These cameras beside that are extremely versatile and can be used for various needs, justifying their cost completely. They are much better than camcorders or webcams since you have better controls and a very beneficial propper resolution. However, I wouldn’t recommend these for an absolute beginner as they are a little hard to achieve adequate results. But don’t be afraid as you can get around all the difficulties with a bit of practice and patience.
Features That Are a Must for Stop Motion Photography
- At least HD resolution – Well, this is mostly for webcams since the other types go well beyond this and will deliver you plenty of quality. However, with webcams check if it has at least 720p resolution.
- Manual focus – This is a must, autofocus may be fine for everything else, but for stop motion photography, you want the camera to focus exactly where you want and not act on its own accord.
- Controls – I always say this the more control you have over your image the better the results, and the more personal the image. Sometimes you can edit your photographs after you have taken them, in post-production. Then again it is better to get as good as it can from the source than you can apply the finishing touches.
In the past and professionally, stop motion content could only be created with professional and high-end stop motion cameras. But these days we can achieve with really affordable hardware and our trusted DSLR or mirrorless cameras. Following the tips above you will get the best camera for your needs, and also don’t forget checking out the top picks above, to get one of the best cameras for stop motion. Until next time, have fun with your new camera.